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JFH Music Review

The Showdown, Blood In The Gears

The Showdown
Blood In The Gears

Artist Info: Discography
Album length: 10 tracks: 40 minutes, 2 seconds
Street Date: August 24, 2010

The Showdown is a band that seemingly can't decide who they want to be. Their first major-label release, A Chorus of Obliteration, was a death-tinged metalcore outing, which was followed inexplicably by Temptation Come My Way's clean, southern rock sound. Following that album and a new deal with Solid State, they put out Back Breaker, a halfway-there mix between the metal of Obliteration and the Southern rock of Temptation. Their fourth installment, Blood in the Gears, is mostly a continuation of the sound of Back Breaker.

While lead vocalist David Bunton can certainly scream and growl along with any metal vocalist, the overall structure and feel of the tracks on Blood in the Gears is that of a hard rock album. Many of the songs have a straightforward verse-chorus structure, with a traditional growled verse/clean chorus format. There's a fair amount of metalcore chugging, but for the most part, the drums drive straight ahead in a typical rock beat, with occasional double bass flourishes.

As was the case of previous albums, it's hard to tell exactly where the band is going on many tracks. Frequently, a song will open with a catchy metal riff and strong growled vocals, only to be broken up by a lackluster, Southern rock singing chorus. While Bunton can certainly do the Southern sound, for the most part, the sung choruses just don't have meaningful melodies to justify their inclusion. At the same time, the instrumentation is often not enough to keep the listener interested for very long. The drumming is mostly pretty basic, and the guitar solos sound like nearly every other metal solo, with lots of fast picking and tapping and very little interesting ideas. In a sense, it's probably fortunate that the album is only ten tracks, lest it drag too long due to the lack of variation.

That's not to say there aren't some very good songs. "Bring it Down" is a two-minute firebrand of a track with pummeling double bass, blastbeats, a nice little bass solo, and Bunton successfully reaching into the lower end of his range. "Graveyard of Empires" is the album's definite highlight with a varied, rhythmic metal approach and just enough Southern touch to keep it interesting. Unfortunately, there are also several mediocre tracks, including the half-ballads "Take Me Home" and "Diggin' My Own Grave," both of which get bogged down in an attempt to be heavy and melodic, ultimately not accomplishing either.

With Blood in the Gears, it seems that The Showdown have found a sound they want to stick with. Unfortunately, they still need better execution to take full advantage of the niche they're trying to fill. When you listen to bands like Maylene and the Sons of Disaster, there's no question that the Southern metal sound has been done better than we find here. And so, Blood in the Gears is an album with the occasional high point, but not enough consistency to be memorable.

- Review date: 8/21/10, written by Timothy Estabrooks of

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JFH Staff's Second Opinion

The Showdown's second release on Solid State Records, Blood in the Gears is a confusing listen. The band finds themselves with line-up changes and a struggle whether to go with their southern roots or to go with a straight ahead metal approach. You will hear songs that border on sounds from all of their past albums. The album was described, in the words of guitarist Josh Childers as, "the classic comparison of America to the fall of Rome," "It's not whining about breaking up with a girlfriend, but it's more world themes and represents a change in mindset. The whole theme is that we are the blood in the gears of the machine, that which greases the gear." The album has highlights with the lead single "The Man Named Hell," the southern rock tune "Take Me Home" (reminiscent of Temptation), the title track, and the last song, "Diggin' My Own Grave." "The Man Named Hell" and "Blood..." find a solid mix of the metal and southern rock the band appears to be aiming for. These two tracks will take you back one album and remind of you of the material on Back Breaker. "Take Me Home" and "Diggin' My Own Grave" are southern rock to the core and give you a taste of the band's Tennessee roots. On the other hand, the tracks "Bring it Down," "Dogma Enthroned," and "The Crooked Path" seem contrived and give the appearance that the band is trying too hard to be "more metal." Although the album features some solid musical moments from Childers on guitar (solid riffing, technical solos, and all of the harmonics The Showdown always features), overall, it is just too hit or miss as a whole. Until the band can find a comfortable medium between the southern rock of their roots and the metal they love to play; things just are not going to sound quite right for them. - Michael Weaver, 8/25/10


. Record Label: Solid State Records
. Album length: 10 tracks: 40 minutes, 2 seconds
. Street Date: August 24, 2010
. Buy It: iTunes
. Buy It: iTunes (Deluxe Edition)
. Buy It:

  1. The Man Named Hell (4:17)
  2. Heavy Lies The Crown (3:23)
  3. Bring It Down (2:16)
  4. Take Me Home (5:24)
  5. Blood In The Gears (4:08)
  6. Dogma Enthroned (3:11)
  7. No Escape (3:59)
  8. The Crooked Path (3:36)
  9. Graveyard Of Empires (4:10)
  10. Diggin' My Own Grave (5:42)

    iTunes Deluxe Edition:
  11. Evil Eye (3:54)
  12. Apocalypse Horde (4:21)



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